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UTLA head says he's open to a new evaluation system

United Teachers Los Angeles President A.J. Duffy told hundreds of his members Friday night that he is "ready, willing and able" to create a new evaluation system for instructors that is "good for kids and fair for teachers." He indicated this might mean using student test scores as one measurement of teachers.

Duffy, who has steadfastly said he opposes the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers, appeared to soften that stance in his speech to UTLA's annual leadership conference being held this weekend at the La Quinta Resort & Club in Indio.

"We are in favor of legitimate uses of student data to help improve teaching," Duffy told the local school union representatives. "We are in favor of a genuine evaluation system that supports teachers and helps them grow in their profession."

John Deasy, deputy superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, told Board of Education members Friday afternoon that he wants to use the so-called value-added analysis of student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations and that he is urging the unions to meet with him.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten met with district and union officials during a visit to Los Angeles this week. She has been in favor of revamping teacher evaluations and has helped negotiate contracts that use test score data as one of multiple factors in instructors' reviews.

The Times published an article earlier this week that used a value-added analysis to measure teacher effectiveness. Value-added compares a student to his or her past test performance. The approach measures how much teachers can add -- or subtract -- from students' growth. The method is controversial among some educators and others, but it also has been embraced as one way to judge teachers and principals.

The Times is planning to publish a database later this month showing the value-added ratings of more than 6,100 elementary schoolteachers. In advance of publication, The Times has allowed teachers to receive their score; so far, more than 1,200 teachers have done so.

Duffy said measuring teachers solely by their students' test scores will lead to more "teaching to the test' and reduce critical-thinking skills. He said several experts have decried The Times' methodology as imperfect.

As he took off his jacket in the packed room, Duffy said public education is "under attack like never before and the threats are coming from all sides. The latest attack," he said, "comes from the L.A. Times." 

Many in the audience booed when he named the newspaper.

"It's hard to feel anything but outrage when they drag our profession through the mud," he said.

-- Phil Willon


Comments () | Archives (20)

One hopes the District can use its own employees to undertake this analysis and not rely on the Times' numbers, or worse, hire another outside consultant. One also hopes that teachers will be given sufficient time for professional development, and that the process will focus on improving teaching, not playing "gotcha" to embarrass teachers. One also wonders how the "value-added" process will be used to evaluate teachers whose subjects are not included on the state tests. Will we develop more tests? Will charter schools be forced to calculate and publish similar scores? And what percentage will this data count for in the overall evaluation of the teacher? 10%? 20%? 30%? What will such a number actually tell us? At the end of the day, how much "value" is added to our understanding of what makes a good teacher by going through this process? Almost everyone agrees that the current evaluation process, Stull etc., is flawed. Wouldn't it be better for the affected parties to sit down together and develop a process that works to improve teaching overall, instead of presenting "magic numbers?"

It's all very well to assign accountability to teachers by the use of children's test scores. Do we know that the tests are actually accurate measures of what they are supposed to evaluate?

Why is there never any discussion of accountability for administrators?

Gee, did I just feel the earth move? Duffy agreed to consider using test scores to evaluate teachers?

-The number of Americans bought a home: under water -foreclosed -homeless, ripped off?
-Americans with pension funds in the stock market DON'T understand the market/how to invest, ripped off?
-Americans who fail to demand accountability of media -Congress -government;
-Screwed out of pension, home, job, medical insurance by corporations who use their profits to pay off members of Congress to enact ONE-sided beneficial legislation?

e.g., TV and print --single owner in same market, thanks to worthless FCC. Lack of Accountability: ever seen KTLA "news" at 1 PM?

e.g., The dumb who watch karoke 'idols' -'reality' TV -pant after gossip yet no savings/can't pay bills.

e.g., EIGHTY percent of Americans WANT gun control, i.e., semi-automatic weapons, but: the 20% threaten Congress members if they oppose NRA.

The LA Times and the Teacher's Union/Duffy: Irrelevant ant's-eye view.

--ANYBODY know a kid who has to pick crops --at 3 PM -- three months in summer? WHY is school SCHEDULE STILL set to agreement made with farmers 150 YEARS ago?

K - 12 Curiculum: mind-numbing boring, creativity-crushing, near-useless, antiquated "education." They "teach" 1930s "liberal arts" ciriculum --as though 'young heirs should dabble in "well-rounded" education' still exists. IT'S DABBLING STUPID.

Schools: create conformist, passive, complacent adults. Kid with last name begins with "A" STILL forced -Front row, first seat; kid's name ends in "Z" sits Last row, last seat WHY??? WHY are seats in rows, not circles? WHY do kids HAVE TO SIT?

DOESN'T teach:
How to handle money;
How to get along with others;
Importance of civics;
Appreaciation of the arts --ALL of them
Life Basics, ie., cooking
--ANY thing people NEED to survive -function WELL as adult.

Where the hell is fight that Matters -to change curiculum?

NO CHILD should be allowed to leave grade school without Proof: read, write proper English.

EVERY thing about education needs to be scraped/re-ordered, brought into 21st c.

If not: Mozart? Just exactly WHOM will be playing the viola/paying to listen; voting; supporting museums; keeping Constitution alive --instead of working giant Ag farm industry -shoveling speed-made toxic food to ignorants, for low-pay, in between dodging bullets???

Prisons crammed-full of illiterate PROOF: Union needs to GET OUT OF THE WAY, let teachers TEACH.

WHY is Duffy paid well-over $100,000 --and WHILE 50% drop-out rate continues?

AJ Duffy is a Union Leader, Shill, and their Tool. He, as well as all other Union Leaders and Politicians for that matter, say whatever their 'Handlers', (be it the Union Bosses or National Political Parties), tell them to and when. Now that Duffy is getting so much un-wanted 'heat' and negative attention from the Public and from some of his members, the Teachers, to have a viable TEACHER evaulation system...he has softened his stance.(Kinda of like giving a name to the Fox that guards the Hen House. You feel better that it has a nice name, but it's still going to kill your Chickens and eat them.) At one time the Unions were a necessity now the times for the Unions have passed as that of the Dinosuars. Duffy especially is BAD for the LA School District - Protect poor performing Teachers due to Tenure, or just VERY BAD teachers, due to tenure. Demand unbelievable compensation packages in hard fiscal times...etc. Dump Duffy, Dump the Union, Dump the Old Guard, Dump the poor and under performing Teachers! Reform the shools and the distrifts, form Charter Schools run by competant Administration and Teachers, AS WELL as an option for Parents of opting out of the LAUSD completely - School Vouchers if Parents want them!

let teachers keep doing what they do best, nothing.

Funny, i did not hear anybody BOO.

Hay President Duffy pay attention

Just a note of information … I was a teacher at LACES. I taught Math and Computer Science classes.

What is the purpose of an Educational system? I believe it is to make sure that a kid will become a fully functional, participating member of their community, State and Nation. Next a kid should graduate and be prepared for the work force or strive to be a potential graduate of a College or University or vocational or career education school.

Now what can we do to get to that point. First let’s take a look at the ingredients of a typical school. The school consists of … Administration, support staff, teachers, students, community volunteers and parents. Next the curriculum … generally consists of reading, writing, and arithmetic and related classes that meet the needs of our Country, State and local communities.

What are the attributes of a teacher of today in order to produce the ideal citizen? The teacher has become a philosopher, councilor, doctor, stands-in parent, provide a home away from home classroom, therapist, cop, politician to handle parental questions, maintain their skills on the latest technological requirements and the list goes on and on.

What has brought us from the little red school house to the requirements placed on our schools today?

First our Social requirements have become more complicated. I call these items the “VALUE SUBTRACTED” influence on the educational system at a school. I have mentioned a few social changes below that contribute to this “VALUE SUBTRACTED” influence …

1. Divorce involving 50% or more of our student population.
2. Homelessness.
3. Poverty.
4. Peer pressures involving sex, drugs, alcohol.
5. Job uncertainty.
6. Mandated programs.
7. Immigration.
8. Drive by shootings along with other gang related influences.
9. The student’s home attitude about the school.
10. The requirements to fulfill the ever changing needs of the community.
11. The security of the student outside of the school’s environment..

I mention the above … I am sure you can add to the above list ... because I know as an educator that the school must provide a safe, secure, stable and clean environment. This must occur before any learning can take place.

Sadly our schools may not reach this ideal. The world outside the school has become part of the school environment. That in fact is the “VALUE SUBTRACTED” influence upon the educational system.

We talk about value added … taken from the studies and statistical analysis of Richard Buddin of Rand.
This Buddin study can be seen at http://www.latimes.com/media/acrobat/2010-08/55538493.pdf.

By the way this concept of “VALUE SUBTRACTED” is not discussed or included in the Buddin study. In fact the study includes the following …

“This study addresses three key issues:
1. How much does teacher quality vary from school to school and from teacher to teacher?
2. What teacher qualifications or backgrounds are associated with teacher success in the classroom?
3. How do traditional measures of school performance compare with value-added measures of teacher and school effectiveness? “

The real question to me is … Why didn’t the Buddin study include my “VALUE SUBTRACTED” INFLUENCES? I would think that without the “VALUE SUBTRACTED” INFLUENCES, the study in totally invalidated. The study is not fair and balanced. The study is incomplete. What do you think?


I am just a mother and far from being an expert in education. I raised three children in the LA unifed. My three kids attend college and graduated.

I was completely involved in their education watching their homework, their activities at school, the teachers they were assigned to. I went school and sat in the classroom to observe the teachers.

Every day after work when I came home; I would ask my kids how was their day. I watch their grades and progress, when they felt behind usually math, and reading we provided a tutor who will come to my house and help them.

During my visits to the classroom, I confirm that the teacher is spending more time babysitting children (not all children) who have not received any discipline at home to be able to sit in the classroom and pay attention.

As a past PTA president and Title I president, students whos's parents are not involved in the schools they attend have many problems sitting in the classroom and pay attention to their teachers.

Unless parents get involved in the education of their children to provide them with love, confidence, discipline,
responsability, accountability etc. there would be very little change.

I agree with Malena & GordonSanta Monica. Parents & students should take part of the responsibility for their students's progress. Leave the teaching to the teachers. Teachers deserve respect from the parents & students. they also deserve respect from the media.

The following quote from the article is an understatement,

"The method is controversial among some educators and others, but it also has been embraced as one way to judge teachers and principals."

The majority of statisticians, researchers, and educators criticize using value-added assessment to evaluate teachers. ETS, the publisher of standardized test, also cautions its use for this purpose.

Who has embraced value-added testing? Answer: The politicians and the Gate’s Foundation.

Google the following ETS publication and download a .pdf of the following booklet:

Policy Information PERSPECTIVE
Using Student ProgressTo Evaluate Teachers:A Primer on Value-Added Models by Henry I. Braun

Here's a quote from the booklet:

“First and foremost, treating the output of a value-added analysis as an accurate indicator of a teacher’s relative contribution to student learning is equivalent to making a causal interpretation of a statistical estimate. Such interpretations are most credible when students are randomly sorted into classes, and teachers are randomly assigned to those classes. In the absence of randomization, causal interpretations can be misleading.

In reality, the classroom placement of students and teachers is far from random. In most districts, parents often influence where their children go to school and even to which class and teacher they are assigned. Similarly, teachers may select the school and classroom where they are placed.
Thus, the students assigned to a particular teacher may not be representative of the general student population with respect to their level and rate of growth in achievement, parental support, motivation, study habits, interpersonal dynamics and other relevant characteristics. It is very difficult for the statistical machinery to disentangle these intrinsic student differences from true differences in teacher effectiveness.

Student progress can also be influenced by the physical condition of the school and the resources available, as well as school policies and school-level implementation of district policies — all of which are beyond a teacher’s control. To the extent that these characteristics vary systematically across schools in the district, they can undermine the fairness of a value-added approach to teacher evaluation.”

Well, well. Duffy has finally shown the public what all the teachers knew all along. He was only in it for his own self-aggrandizement. We teachers have to insist on stop paying dues to the UTLA. He has now given us the shaft publically because he has another agenda waiting for him. What is it Duffy? What political office or seat on what board are you now chasing after?

The winds will change once teachers are back at school and united the second week of September.

Duffy has to talk to us first.

A few misleading LA Times articles will not sway the Union to accept a weakened position.

John Deasy, LAUSD’s new Deputy Superintendent, didn't waste time playing his dangerous hand regarding how he's going to handle teachers and their skeptical hopes for collaboration with new District leadership. Although Cortines is still in charge, it was Deasy trotted out as the mouthpiece of the District in response to the biggest firestorm to threaten LAUSD in a decade. Lame duck Cortines has been sidelined for good by this new Gates Foundation market-driven goon who wasted no time in displaying his empathy for our 45, 000 teachers by demanding “immediate and swift” contract negotiations in order to begin his “immediate and swift” destruction of those dependent on his leadership – UTLA, traditional public schools, and teachers. Mr. Deasy’s brash, ill-advised suggestion that new evaluation criteria be smashed into place inside a laughable two-week window when he's been with the District just over a month smacks of political piracy. If this guys' worth his salt, and he genuinely wants to work “with” his new teachers, he must understand that rank and file LAUSD teachers can see through his foolish attempt at brinkmanship, and teachers won't allow their livelihoods to hinge on a new political climber caring more about image than about how well kids learn. Duffy better show some spine for once and stop this new guy in his tracks – time to man up, UTLA.

The Times (or any third party) has no business telling us which teachers are good or bad. It will create a witch hunt mentality. They only have test scores and no other criteria.

Thanks for caving to the angry mob. How can I divert my union dues to charity?

So can someone explain to me what the purposes of these evalautions are if they no have no effect on the pay, benefits, or job security of those being evaluated?

I know that many many children are sleep deprived, using cell phones, computers, and electronic devices in their rooms until long past bedtime. Sleep deprived kids are known to perform at levels far below grade levels, and teachers can't do anything about it. Then other kids are hungry, frightened by bullies, and on medication--try teaching them. Then others are off their medications. What a job being a teacher in LA.

Data mining of this information will be used in many studies. Good work.

Bad teachers get protected by UTLA. Good teachers get nothing from UTLA. Since UTLA uses close to 50% of their resources protecting the bad teachers job, while assigned at home, I don't understand why the good teachers keep feeding this monster.

Good teachers WANT the bad teachers gone. The good ones have pride in their profession. The bad ones ruin what could be a great school district.

Until the good teachers withhold union dues the profession will continue to be tarnished. Members! Your dues are your voice. You have a choice. Continue to pay dues and continue the cycle. Stop paying your dues and be heard.

Spread the word. You know who the good teachers are. Take your union back!


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